For five months beginning in late 1989, a dozen top manufacturing staffers from Honeywell's Industrial Automation & Control (IAC) facility in Phoenix turned their attention outward, visiting Japan, exploring what other companies were doing, and talking to consultants. Each read the latest tomes on subjects such as just-in-time and Japanese manufacturing systems.
The result was an ambitious program whose goals included slashing defects tenfold and cycle times by a factor of five by year-end 1992.
Clearly, the campaign needed the energetic support of the IAC workforce. So, on April 4, 1990, Gayle Pincus, then vice president for manufacturing, shut down the plant and took everyone to an off-site meeting. "We spent six hours trying to articulate the need for change and then explaining what the change would likely be, in broad terms, "she recalls.
Three years later, defect rates at this 1993 Best Plants award winner were down 70 percent and the cycle time on parts had been reduced by 72 percent.
For a decade, Honeywell IAC has been learning the secrets of teaming, often through trial and error. One lesson is that teams need to have control over everything that impacts their performance.
"The first team we created in 1981 failed," says Gale Kristof, manager of worldwide manufacturing programs. "They had 80 percent of the ingredients, but we left out two critical ones: scheduling and inventory. You have to schedule to be able to control your destiny." The team culture was also bolstered, he notes, by the 1987 decision to convert to an all-salaried workforce.